STOCKHOLM (AP) ― One of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates says learning how to handle failure is key to becoming a successful scientist.
American James Rothman, who shared the medicine prize with countryman Randy Schekman and German-American Thomas Sudhof, said Friday that doing scientific research almost always means not getting the desired result.
The difference between “a great scientist and a not-so-lucky one,” Rothman, told reporters and students in Stockholm, is the former fails 99 percent of the time, and the latter 99.9 percent.
Rothman, 63, said he ended up in biochemistry after Harvard’s neuroscience program rejected him.
“Turns out I became a pretty good biochemist,” he said.
The laureates will collect the $1.2 million prize on Tuesday for discoveries on how key substances are transported within cells.
While Sudhof, 57, said he thought science was “pretty boring” in high school, Schekman developed a scientific interest at a young age and spent much of his high school years studying “pond scum” with a toy microscope. He said he brought that microscope as gift to the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.
Schekman, 64, said that after they shared the Lasker award in 2002 ― often seen as a precursor to winning a Nobel Prize ― he and Rothman made it an annual custom to talk after the Nobel medicine award announcement in October.